BOSTON – The Boston Public Health Commission today announced the first confirmed human case of West Nile Virus (WNV) in a Boston resident this year. The case, a woman in her 50’s who lives in Beacon Hill, was hospitalized, but has been released. Because the woman traveled prior to becoming ill, it is unclear where she acquired the infection.
Last month, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health elevated the WNV threat level for Boston and several surrounding communities after confirming other human cases of WNV in the region. In Boston so far this year, mosquito pools in Dorchester, Hyde Park, West Roxbury, Roslindale, East Boston, and Jamaica Plain have tested positive for the virus.
Boston public health officials continue to remind residents to take simple precautions to reduce their risk of exposure to mosquitoes.
“People often think that since Labor Day is the unofficial end of summer, there’s no need to worry about mosquitoes until next year, but that’s not the reality,” said Dr. Anita Barry, director of the Infectious Disease Bureau at the Boston Public Health Commission. “Temperatures are still warm, and that means that mosquitoes will continue to be an issue until the first hard frost. People should keep taking the easy steps we always encourage to avoid mosquito bites.”
These steps include using insect repellant when outdoors, especially from dusk to dawn when mosquitoes are more likely to be biting and, when possible, wearing clothing that includes long sleeves and pants. People can prevent mosquitoes from entering their homes by making sure that window and door screens are in good repair.
To help prevent mosquitoes from breeding, BPHC advises limiting places around the home where standing water can collect. People should turn over unused flower pots, buckets, wheelbarrows, and garbage cans; remove leaves and other debris that can clog gutters and trap water; dispose of or cover old tires; and cover swimming pools and kiddie pools when not in use.
In addition, city officials, in conjunction with Suffolk County Mosquito Control, have applied larvicide in catch basins throughout Boston to reduce the adult mosquito population.
BPHC is also coordinating closely with the state Department of Public Health and the city’s Parks Department, Boston Public Schools, Boston Centers for Youth & Families, the Commission on Elderly Affairs, and the Mayor’s Office of Special Events to provide educational materials and guidance on holding outdoor evening activities.
Most people infected with WNV are asymptomatic or have mild illness. However, in rare cases, illness can be more serious. WNV is most commonly transmitted to humans by the bite of a mosquito infected with the virus, but the risk of becoming ill can be reduced by taking these simple precautions.
Please see the fact sheet below for additional background and tips regarding WNV:
· Haitian Creole
· Cape Verde
For more information, call the Boston Public Health Commission at 617-534-5611 or visit www.bphc.org.